Newest Learjet part of upgrades: Bombardier employees got a look Tuesday at a model of the new business jet.

Nov. 8--Bombardier Aerospace's launch of its new Learjet NXT last week -- the largest Learjet business jet to date -- is part of an eventual round of upgrades to Bombardier's line of aircraft. "We want to make sure we continue the legacy of...


Nov. 8--Bombardier Aerospace's launch of its new Learjet NXT last week -- the largest Learjet business jet to date -- is part of an eventual round of upgrades to Bombardier's line of aircraft.

"We want to make sure we continue the legacy of improving our products," Pierre Cote, president of Bombardier Business Aircraft, said on a recent trip to Wichita.

The eight-passenger plane is an all-new design. It's the fourth all-new airplane the company has designed since 1992.

The new plane will be assembled in Wichita. The company unveiled a model of the plane in an employee meeting in Wichita on Tuesday.

"We will need to add resources to start reconfiguring the site," Bombardier spokesman Leo Knaapen said Wednesday.

Bombardier isn't releasing a projected delivery date. It also has not said whether the plane will be built using composite or aluminum materials.

Bombardier operates a Center of Excellence in composites at its Shorts facility in Ireland. It is exploring the area of high-technology composites.

The company is looking at opportunities to expand the technology into its various product lines, including its line of Learjet, Challenger and Global products, Cote said.

The composite expertise could be exported other places, such as Wichita or Montreal, Cote said. But the company would only do that when it's ready, he said.

"Whatever technology we choose, it's going to be a success," Cote said.

One area of corporate aviation the company is not likely to enter soon is the very light jet segment, Cote said.

"We're active observers of what's going on," he said. "We made a conscious choice not to be in that market for now."

It's a different customer base, Cote said. Someone buying a very light jet isn't likely to graduate to a bigger aircraft.

There are a lot of companies coming into that segment of the market, he said.

"We'd like to see how it evolves and see who's successful and who's not," Cote said. "But for now we're not going to be a player."

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com [mailto:mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com]

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